Pubdate: Mon, 7 Mar 2011
Source: USA Today (US)
Page: 3A
Copyright: 2011 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc
Author: Mary Beth Marklein, USA TODAY
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project
Cited: Students for Sensible Drug Policy
Bookmark: (Students - United States)


As legislatures nationwide debate whether to legalize medical 
marijuana, colleges and universities in states where laws have been 
adopted say their campuses will remain drug-free.

The reason: Marijuana use and possession violates federal law, and 
colleges don't want to risk losing federal funding.

This year, 13 state legislatures are considering proposals to 
legalize medical marijuana, and four more are looking at bills, says 
Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, a group that advocates 
loosening marijuana laws. Proposals to tighten or ease laws are 
pending in at least 10 of the 15 states, plus the District of 
Columbia, where medical marijuana is legal.

Colleges say they have no choice but to abide by the federal rules 
and keep marijuana off their campuses.

. In New Jersey, where a medical-marijuana law passed last year, 
Rutgers University declined an invitation by the governor to grow and 
research medical marijuana.

. In Arizona, where a law passed in November, University of Arizona 
lawyers in January posted a notice saying anyone found with marijuana 
on campus "will continue to be subject to disciplinary action."

. In San Diego, the City Council approved in January a proposal that 
medical-marijuana dispensaries be located at least 1,000 feet from 
college campuses. "Dispensaries are not compatible with our 
educational mission," San Diego State University President Stephen 
Weber said in a letter to the council urging a buffer zone.

. In Illinois, where a bill to help medical-marijuana users was 
introduced in January, students on two campuses have run into 
roadblocks as they seek to create advocacy groups for changing marijuana laws.

After a steady decline in marijuana use since 2003, the percentage of 
college students who said they had used marijuana in the previous 
month jumped from 17.9% in 2008 to 20.1% in 2009, says the 2010 
National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The survey doesn't tie the 
rise to medical-marijuana legalization, but "highlighting (marijuana) 
as some kind of medicine has sent a terrible message to young 
people," says Gil Kerlikowske, director of the White House Office of 
National Drug Control Policy.

Some activists see legalizing medical marijuana as part of a larger 
strategy to decriminalize the drug.

At the University of Arkansas, where the chancellor last fall 
rejected a proposal to ease penalties for marijuana-related 
violations, students are developing a state campaign to legalize 
medical marijuana. "We decided to focus our efforts where we could 
accomplish some real policy changes," says Robert Pfountz, a past 
president of the campus chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
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